Break-ins car­ried out by kids aged just 10

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - News - Gra­ham Miller

Dozens of chil­dren – some as young as 10 – have been caught house­break­ing in North La­nark­shire, shock­ing new fig­ures re­veal.

A to­tal of 42 young­sters from the area were re­ferred to the Scot­tish Chil­dren’s Re­porter Ad­min­is­tra­tion (SCRA), plac­ing North La­nark­shire third in the house­break­ing list of shame, be­hind Glas­gow and Ed­in­burgh.

The sta­tis­tics, ob­tained by the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives through a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest, cover a three-year pe­riod un­til 2017.

In North La­nark­shire, nine 13-yearolds were re­ferred to the chil­dren’s re­porter for house­break­ing-re­lated of­fences, in­clud­ing theft of a ve­hi­cle.

A dozen 14-year-old house­break­ers and would-be of­fend­ers were col­lared dur­ing that time, along with six­teen 15-year-olds.

Five or fewer of­fend­ers in each of the 10, 11, 12 and 16 age groups were sim­i­larly snared. To pro­tect the chil­dren’s iden­ti­ties SCRA would not be drawn on spe­cific num­bers in those age cat­e­gories.

Ac­cord­ing to SCRA records, a to­tal of 517 chil­dren aged eight-to-17 across Scot­land were re­ferred dur­ing that pe­riod for house­break­ing.

Of those, 186 oc­curred last year; a fig­ure that has re­mained much the same for the past three years.

The sta­tis­tics re­vealed 15 was the most com­mon age for a young­ster to be re­ferred for house­break­ing.

Shadow jus­tice sec­re­tary Liam Kerr said it is es­sen­tial that work is done with those re­ferred to en­sure house­break­ing is not an of­fence that will be re­peated in later life.

In Septem­ber it was re­vealed that house­break­ing has a po­lice clear-up rate of just 22.5 per cent.

Last month the Scot­tish Govern­ment out­lined plans to in­crease the age of crim­i­nal re­spon­si­bil­ity in Scot­land from eight to 12.

Mr Kerr said:“Be­ing bro­ken into and robbed is one of the most up­set­ting things that can hap­pen.

“It’s ir­rel­e­vant what age the per­pe­tra­tors are. It re­mains ter­ri­fy­ing and can leave a last­ing im­pact.

“It’s alarm­ing that hun­dreds of chil­dren have been re­ferred for this crime across Scot­land in re­cent years and the trend isn’t im­prov­ing.

“We need to get in and en­sure these young­sters are put on the right path be­cause once peo­ple start out on this road to a ca­reer in crime it’s ex­tremely hard to get them off it.

“When chil­dren who haven’t even reached their teens are be­ing re­ferred for this, ques­tions re­ally do have to be asked about the par­ents too.

“House­break­ing gen­er­ally is a prob­lem across Scot­land, with an ex­tremely poor clear-up rate. Hav­ing hun­dreds of un­der-18s con­trib­ute to this only makes things worse.”

Vic­tim Sup­port Scot­land’s Alan McCloskey said:“Any vic­tim of a house­break­ing crime can con­tact us for sup­port.

“We of­fer a free and con­fi­den­tial ser­vice, pro­vid­ing prac­ti­cal as­sis­tance, emo­tional sup­port, safety ad­vice and help to un­der­stand the com­plex crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.”

Con­tact the helpline on 0345 603 9213 or visit vic­tim­sup­port­sco.org.uk.

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